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07/17/2006

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Tom

Part of the reason for difference in _average_ earnings is skew in salaries. The higher variance group would be expected to earn more on average. How different are the medians? Some statisticians, myself included, would prefer exp(mean(log(earnings)) over the median. How different are those?

Bart

Since average earnings do not include those outside the labor market without earnings, we should not expect women's average earnings to equal those of men even if the desire to have children were removed. It seems to me that any job will have costs (time constraints, loss of freedom, etc,) associated with that job and that any rational person will only select to commit to that job when the benefits exceed the costs. It also seems that any person at the tail end of the male or female curves will less likely to find a job that has benefits that exceed costs. At the same time the opposite is true for the head end. Since men have greater variance, men have a higher a percentage of individuals in both the tail and head ends, the average salary reported for men would be artificially high. Basically, if non-earning individuals are not counted, men's average salary will appear higher than it really is because we have excluded the bottom earning tier where men are represented at a higher rate.

Of course, the point where woman will find the benefits exceed the costs in selecting whether to work or how much to work will be higher at any given point in the curve because of their higher desire to be directly involved with upbringing children. But even if this desire were completely balanced in the sexes it seems that the average earnings in the labor market would favor men since males with be more likely to be in the low potential group opting out of the labor market.

Also it can be noted that if the difference in desire to be directly involved with upbringing children were sufficiently high enough in women it could cause enough of the lower average potential woman to opt out completely and thus remove themselves from the labor market (unemployed and not seeking a job) that the average female salary could be higher. This effect would be tempered by many women in the labor market choosing to work less instead of not at all.

It may be the these two factors (a higher percentage of the extremely low potential earners opting out being male, and the woman that are in the labor market opting for lower salary earnings) that explain the current higher average earning for men and not just woman opting for lower salary earnings making the difference seem even greater than it really is.

Arun Khanna

There is a need for affirmative equality of opportunity i.e. regardless of income, race or gender, students should have access to undergrad education. In graduate school, women are under-represented, perhaps we should have affirmative action for increasing women enrollment in graduate school.
What should Ph.D. students do if their advisor is on the wrong side of man-woman equality debate from earlier decades and the advisor is unable to place even an above average student except at the very late hour?

Bill Grant

over 55% of college students are women. ...The gender gap in enrollments is especially large for lower income African-Americans and Latinos, and is negligible for children from middle and upper income white families.

Do you really think that more economic consequences of college education come from enrollment than successful completion (graduation)? Strange, isn't it, that this report (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/2006071_3.pdf) includes only a section curiously entitled "Student Effort and Educational Progress," with a subsection "Degrees Earned By Women"?? Wouldn't you like to examine comparisons of college degrees earned by sex?

In 2001-2, women earned 58% of college degrees. That means 39% more women than men earned college degrees.

You suggest that the "gender gap" is negligible for children from middle and upper income white families. Really? In 2001-2, white women received 35% more college degrees than white men (35% more white women than white men). See p. 9 of http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/2005169.pdf
Strange that reports suggest that men's relatively poor position concerns only a small share of men.
What share of college graduates do you class as "middle and upper income white families"?

It's not hard to perceive a desparate attempt to trivialize the very significant fact that 39% more women than men are graduating from college. That situation is a stunning indictment of the education system and public discourse.

Bernard Yomtov

Since affirmative action toward men would be supported not only by men, but also by many women, easier standards for male applicants seems to be a desirable policy for many colleges.

I don't agree that this is a useful distinction between affirmative action for men and affirmative action for racial minorities.

True, some women may prefer such a policy. Others, especially those who are marginal applicants, will not. Would a female high school senior approve of such a policy at a university she hoped to attend, but to which she considered herself a borderline applicant? And of course some women will oppose such a policy on simple grounds of equity.

Similarly, some white students may prefer that their colleges adopt racial affirmative action in admissions. Perhaps they feel that increasing racial diversity makes the school a more interesting and enjoyable place to be. How is this different than wanting a "better social life?"

It's not. And again, the objections to this policy are likely to arise from marginal white applicants who feel that it reduces their chances of admission, as well from those who regard it as simply unfair.

So whatever one thinks about admissions policies, I don't think the distinction advanced here is meaningful.

bethany

I disagree with the notion that an affirmative action program for men is less objectionable than an affirmative action program for racial or ethnic minorities because the group facing the higher standards (women) wants the lower performers (men) to be admitted to foster an improved social life. Are we women only concerned with having a date for the movies on Friday night? Do we not give a hoot about having friends with diverse backgrounds racially, ethnically, geographically, culturally, or economically?

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scott cunningham

The war on drugs may be driving increased college enrollment among Black women via its impact on marriage market conditions. Charles and Luoh (2005) found that rising incarceration rates among Black males lowered Black female probabilities of marriage, increased probabilities of marrying a "less preferred" male, and increased human capital investment among Black females. With women losing the surplus generated from marriage, because of the diminished male population, and because of low inter-racial matching, women may be investing in labor market skills to compensate for the lost income from foregone marriage. The effect that the war on drugs has on Black male incentives to invest in education is not well understood, though you have noted a link in a BW article from a few years ago. It all seems very discouarging. How important, in your mind Dr. Becker, is the war on drugs in African American labor and family outcomes, like wages, marriage, education, fatherhood, etc.?

MJG

I also fail to see compelling evidence in favor of affirmative action for men. Whether a portion, large or small, of women would wish for this is irrelevant. The same arguments used against affirmative action on a racial basis seem to apply to gender. After all, I would still view affirmative action as illegitimate even if large majorities of whites supported it.

W

On pretty much all objective measures, women deserve to have greater college representation than men because they study harder, get better grades, are more likely to graduate from high school, complete their school work in a more timely fashion, write better, and in other ways outperform young men.

I see a problem. "Write better" may simply mean follow a strict format; following a formula is neither creative nor what great writing is made of. But it is objectively measureable. Chick-lit sells better than Willa Cather novels these days; does that mean it is better writing? Timely completion of assignments is objectively measureable, but I wonder why that ought to result in higher grades or higher rates of college admission. Meeting deadlines does not necessarily reflect either innate inteligence or the acquisition of knowledge. Likewise, grades are objective measures -- A is higher than B, but a good portion of one's grade in high school is comprised of attendance, meeting of deadlines, and class participation. This can reach 30% of your grade. If you show up on time each day, sit in the front of the class, answer the (first)easiest question, turn in all assignments early, and ask for extra credit, you can earn an A although you are essentially a C+ student. It is also true that girls study more than boys do, which is important at the college-level. But that may have much to do with the bias of politically correct textbooks these days, which have been empirically shown to encourage male apathy. I would also note that rote memorization is distinct from acquainting oneself with a subject until one has attained deep-level knowledge. And acquiring the cheesy volunteering or extracurricular activities that impress colleges is easier for manic workaholics who have no shame or self-respect; I sincerely wonder why any value is assigned ot helping out the elderly or volunteering at a church or serving in school government; those are precisely the activities high-schoolers perform simply to put them on their college application.

Furthermore, all this praise of girls ignores that if girls are most of our college graduates, then they are mostly to blame for the fact that college students graduate without basic knowledge of American history, inability to balance a checkbook, etc. These women who are outperforming men still aren't doing very well in the grander scheme of things, i.e., objectively. Instead of paying attention to the "gender gap," we should be concentrating on cultivating habits of true scholarship for all our students.


Women still remain a minority, however, in the sciences, engineering, business, and economics.

Because this is a matter of choice, should not colleges take into consideration the likely career path of an applicant? In other words, should the college screen out qualified women because too many of them want to be anthropologists? Should less qualified men who have the right career interests be preferred?

Muxecoid

I think that "discount" to ethnical or gender groups is justified only if the unequality is the result of self-fulfilling prophesy. Otherwise this artificial constrain will reduce the gap, but should it be removed the gap will be worse than before the "correction".
Market for workforce suffers for strong quality uncertainity. It is higher in groups with high variance. Should we apply affirmative action on male education the gap in quality of female and male graduates will increase. If Akerlof's prediction is correct the offered market price for male workers is based on statistical average and it will fall reducing males' motivation to invest in their education.

Also I'll try to partially explain why male professors see higher variance among male students. First I assume that economica professors are likely to be male. Professors probably do not calculate mathematical mean but rather rely on subjective feeling. To get into professor's "statistics" one must attract his attention. Males need to impress him with their high or small intelligence, so he is more likely to sample extreme. His attention to females is natural so he is, probably, more likely to sample females.


Posted by W at July 19, 2006 04:14 AM: Objectivity and neutrality of grading is, certainly, a very important topic, I hope to write Ph.D thesis on economics of grading someday.

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Lab_Frog

Perhaps one reason for the lower results of men in college is that they are less concerned with pleasing the professors and getting along with the system and more interested in learning what they think is important.
Perhaps a crude statistical method to see if this is true is to look at the rate of male and female students who sell back their books, with the assumption that those who sell back their books are more likely to be in college more for grades and credentials rather than to actually learn (all else equal of course, but factors like wealth should be very close to equal).

A. Scott Crawford

"On pretty much all objective measures, women deserve to have greater college representation than men because they study harder, get better grades, are more likely to graduate from high school, complete their school work in a more timely fashion, write better, and in other ways outperform young men."...........

To add to W's points. High school applicants to a particular university are drawn from a range of qualification that is defined by the same, supposedly gender neutral, measures. Standardized test scores, highschool GPA's, non-scholastic activities, &etc. are related to the proportion of women to men that ARE ADMITTED, and not to applicants or post admission performance. Basically, what we are being treated to is a Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc justification for systemic discrimination...
.......
Were the admission balance proportionate to the degree female applicants ON AVERAGE out performed male applicants, this would be understandable. But when one considers a public institution like the University of Michigan, where the Supreme Court found discriminatory undergraduate admissions practices, there is no clear justification for the university accepting 150ish female applicants for every 100 male applicants. The range of measurable variables used to determine qualification for admission is too wide to claim "qualified female applicants outnumbered qualified male applicants by 150%!!".
..............
In the U of Mich undergraduate admission example, there is a documented history of institutional discrimination in the admissions process. I think it reasonable to suspect that in this particular case the University of Michigan admissions office is applying discriminatory standards in perfect contempt of the spirit of the Courts ruling.
...............
On the broader question, the different levels of performance on standardized tests (one objective measure) between men and women have changed over time. It is perfectly weird to identify the recent trend of young women out performing young men across ACADEMIC "objective" metrics, and to then assume that for some magical reason young MEN and WOMEN have substantially changed over the last generation, rather than first looking for systemic or structural changes that would explain the same trend more simply (Ockhams razor).
...................
For example: the explosion of computers has affected teenaged boys and teenaged girls differently. As we live in a computer age, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect computer literacy to be included in any objective measure of qualification for admission to institutions of higher learning? Wouldn't the modern ability to access original documents and texts on the internet undermine instruction that relied on dubious text book overviews? Students who've spent more time playing interactive games on-line aren't likely to have as broad a lexicon as students who've spent time reading romantic fiction. &etc.

Mirtila Nunez

Should affirmative action for african american/hispanic males exist?
I think it is not the appropriate time for that to occur yet. Isn't it always best to choose the benefit over the cost, and to keep choosing the benefit over the cost as long as it is a benefit? Well, if females from african american and hspanic background are in college due to that lack of choices to form a family, and the males of that same background are not because other options seem appealing, it is only a matter of analysis to see whether it would be a good thing or not to allow these males to enter college due to an affirmative action policy. After a while, the male:female ratio will level off, and at that point where the affirmative action plan should be removed it will not (most likely) because the people running laws are politicians not economists.

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